The pressure’s on for Antonio Brown.
Last offseason the Pittsburgh Steelers reached an extension with Brown instead of deep-burning outside threat Mike Wallace; opting to go with the smaller yet equally electric receiver in Brown, who finished 16th in yards after catch last season while dropping four passes compared to 66 catches. This helped Brown finished with the 43rd-ranked grade among wide receivers, according to Pro Football Focus, compared to Wallace’s 91st finish.
This extension of Sanders over Wallace was not-so-coincidentally the far less expensive move too, though it’s weird that the Steelers then threw a fair amount of money at fellow Pittsburgh receiver Emmanuel Sanders to meet the New England Patriots‘ offer to the restricted free agent.
Regardless of the true motives in the Wallace, Sanders and Brown situations, it is the latter who will make this offense tick in 2013 along with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. Word out of camp is that Brown’s already acting the part around the rookies, including speedster Markus Wheaton out of Oregon State, who could fill the field-stretching void left by Wallace as Sanders takes his spot on the depth chart.
“We’ll do a good job of getting him in and getting him settled. I think I’ll be a great guy to facilitate that, as soon as he gets here — make sure he learns, understands the opportunity that’s here in front of him, understands the vision of the group,” Brown said, via the Tribune-Review. “And that he knows what we’re trying to do here, what we set out to do in 2013.”
Brown hopes to erase the memory of an 8-8 2012 campaign that saw Pittsburgh finish first in team defense but endure numerous struggles on offense after Big Ben first went down. Brown knows that’s not enough reason to sleep easy, which will keep the Steelers busy in training camp.
“Definitely underachieved,” Brown said. “Too many turnovers, balls on the ground. I think a lot of the turnovers came from our (wide receivers) room, a couple of dropped passes. It definitely was below the line. This year, we’re out to get better as a group and get it back to a good level.”